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Vinculum Fidei: The Tempest and the Law of Allegiance

Law and Literature, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 1-20, March 2008

20 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2009  

Elliott Visconsi

Yale Department of English & Yale Law School

Date Written: January 30, 2008

Abstract

In English constitutional law, Calvin's Case (1608) laid down a new, deeply affective basis of individual allegiance; the bond between sovereign and subject was now to be understood in personal, embodied terms as a tie of obligation and love between natural men. This essay argues that Shakespeare's The Tempest is a work of hypothetical constitutional commentary designed to illustrate the fragility and awkwardness of the new norm at home and abroad; the play moreover rebukes the theoretical ambitions of James I. The late Shakespeare, in this account, is not a political quietist but a skeptical constitutional theorist offering a monitory vision of the affective costs of the new model of allegiance and obligation.

Keywords: allegiance, English common law, Shakespeare, Tempest, sovereignty

Suggested Citation

Visconsi, Elliott, Vinculum Fidei: The Tempest and the Law of Allegiance (January 30, 2008). Law and Literature, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 1-20, March 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1468664

Elliott Visconsi (Contact Author)

Yale Department of English & Yale Law School ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://visconsi.org

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